Are African fashion weeks a waste of time and money for African fashion designers? Should African designers who are largely small business owners focus on: 1)creating brand awareness through social media and blogs, this includes showing their collections online. New York Fashion Week just wrapped up with 630,000 online viewers. That says a lot about a market available for you the African designer to exploit; 2) marketing directly to their target audience through e-commerce, 3) tradeshows (where buyers and the press actually attend), and 4) retail events like Le Petit Marche in Lagos, TAB NYC which just made its inaugural debut in New York or similarly situated shopping events across the country?
Over the years, we have consistently seen that there are novice and established, alike, fashion week producers without the press and buyer contacts to get the African fashion designer any kind of sales order or even true press visibility, for all of the expense involved in showing at a fashion week. There are 1 or 2 shows I can point to on the continent, really, that has resulted in any tangible sales for the African designer.
I think it’s time African designers really re-think the business of fashion, and most importantly focusing on a sustainable business model that can and will be lucrative.
Ladybrille designers, what are your thoughts? I would like to hear from you about your experiences with showing at fashion weeks. You have seen the evolution of the industry, especially in the last six years. Your thoughts?